LXIII | Feeling

I offer to wash the dishes.
I’ve never done that.

It must be because
today’s an illusion.

So it doesn’t feel like a chore.

But today


My parents
don’t take out their phones

or sit
at opposite ends
of the living room
in silence.

They sit next to each other,
talking in low voices.

The parrot is perched
on the armrest of the sofa.

I sip a cup of coffee.

My father
better coffee than Whimsical Coffee.



‘Come here, Clyde.’

My mother pats the seat next to her.

I sit,
wiping my hands
on my jeans.

The parrot hops

onto my shoulder.

She hands me
the pile of papers
on the table.

‘Your dad and I
‘are going to fill this up today.’

We read it together,
the parrot and I.

I give it back to the woman.

She has an
on her face.

The man has one too.

It stretches to the edge
of his face

          —a cheshire’s smile.

Suddenly, the coffee in my mouth
tastes sour.

I want to throw up.

‘Then what’s the #*%& breakfast for?’

She: We thought
He: at least once
She: we should be
He: a family.

She hands him the pen.
He fills up the blanks.

He hands her the pen.
She fills up the blanks.

I can only watch.

It feels like I’m watching
a cliché Korean drama.

‘Are you going to cry?’
the parrot asks.

It’s just a show.

This man and woman.
This existence of mine.

They can’t hear
the parrot says
to me.

I snort, ‘What for?’

After they divorce,
you’ll be like Brient.

I huff.
‘I’ll be 18 soon.’

In Singapore,
that number doesn’t mean anything.

‘Then what?’ I demand,
‘you want me to cry?’

I want you to feel something.

‘Brient didn’t feel anything.’

You’re not Brient.

‘I don’t want.’

Why don’t you admit it?
This should not be reality.

The parrot
steps on the papers,

stares at me
with one red eye.

‘Even if I don’t want this,
‘it’s going to happen anyway.

‘Even if I try,
‘it’s going to happen anyway.’

Why don’t you admit it?

I shrug.

‘I always knew
‘this would happen.’

The woman looks at me.

She doesn’t seem
to have heard my conversation
with the parrot.

It’s better this way.

I smile at them.
‘You acted very well,’ I say aloud.

She sighs.
‘It’s a very difficult decision.’

‘Of course,’ I reply.

‘You don’t understand
‘what being married is like.’
          —the man says this.

The woman nods.
A placating smile.

‘When you grow up, you’ll understand our decision.’

I lean back
into the leather sofa.

‘Then I’m must have grown up liao.
‘Cause I understand.’

After all,
this is reality.




How many others
were there
that I’ve forgotten the names of?

Our lives,

one after another,
by one another

          like it’s normal.

‘It’s normal,’ the parrot says,
‘for (even) babies to wait
‘until their tiny hands grow

‘to hold both their parents’ hands at once.’

The papers are filled.

The man and woman
glance at each other

like business dealers.

They’re strangers
forced to sit next to each other.

I ignore them
and talk to the parrot.

‘Is that supposed to be comforting?’

The parrot
takes the papers in its beak,
and fly out the window.

And their eyes follow the parrot too.

They see it.
They knew.

They ignored it.

They let it be.

Another apologetic smile.

‘I’m sorry, Clyde,’
the woman says.

‘I wanted to wait until you’re 18.
‘but he–’

‘–there isn’t a right time
‘to do this,’ the man interrupts.

Her body turns,
her mouth opens.

The air turns cold.

I run.

My legs are numb
because I didn’t sleep
last night.

I’m floating.

At the void deck
of the HDB block,

I see the parrot waiting
and run.

I run
until my breath

is the only sound I can hear.

I run
until I don’t feel

my heart beating anymore.

I run
until I’m out of breath

and the parrot is

out of sight.


‘Even if I want it,
‘a world like that doesn’t exist.’




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